The Other Critics

‘Can’t Miss’ Dishes at Pure Thai Shophouse; ‘Terrific’ Pork at Zabb Elee

“Real life is not television. Food needs to do more than simply look good when it comes out of the kitchen,” says Sam Sifton of Top Chef’s season-two alum Sam Talbot’s new restaurant, Imperial No. Nine. “You do not want people saying, as they eat your cubed raw tuna dressed lightly in mustard oil, that it tastes ‘fishy.’” [NYT]

Mable’s Smokehouse and Banquet Hall, which opened recently near the Williamsburg waterfront, brings this all-American art form into a laid-back and saloonlike environment,” says Jay Cheshes. “Mable’s might look like a good place to get sloppy drunk, but the food here tells another story. Our suggestion: Do both.” [TONY]

“At the end of the room are eight fro-yo filling stations for the rocket fuel you are about to imbibe. These are configured as four pairs, allowing you to mix types that are adjacent to make a stylish swirl,” says Robert Sietsema of the new frozen-yogurt spot Flavaboom. “I tried the banana, which was a bit pallid in taste, with a slight chemical aftertaste. The strawberry was purely OK, though it too lacked the flavor zap that the concept suggested. Best of all, by far, was a splendid chocolate, dark and creamy, which I would actually return to eat again.” [VV]

At the Leopard at des Artistes, “[Chef Vito] Gnazzo is a wizard with textured tomato sauces and grains. Pasta rang the bell, even simple spaghetti chitarra that for once has true guitar-string tactility,” says Steve Cuozzo. However, “its achievement lies in resurrecting a ‘landmark’ that most New Yorkers shunned, and making it as fresh as Café des Artistes must have seemed a half-century ago.” [NYP]

Ai Fiori “is a restaurant that has everything — ;more or less faultless cooking, imaginative plating, exemplary service — except character,” says Leo Carey. “White, a pasta virtuoso, puts an Italian-style primi course between starters and mains, and portions are generally small enough to reward the detour: a dish of gnocchetti stridently flavored with seafood and saffron is essentially bouillabaisse transmuted into pasta.” [NYer]

At Boulud Sud, “Tangles of sprouts and micro greens and colorful rivulets of sauce are the upscale French touch that will remind us who’s in charge long after Daniel is off to his next venture,” says Gael Greene. “I can see myself sitting at the bar after a movie making a supper of the baby goat ragout with plops of goat cheese on orecchiette. Is it Greek? Is it Italian? Does it matter? It’s delicious.” [Insatiable Critic]

The Wall Street Journal reviews Pure Thai Shophouse, and declares the jungle curry fried rice with chicken and chili turmeric with beef “can’t miss” dishes. [WSJ]

Northern Thai “Isan” restaurant Zabb Elee makes the Times’ “$25 and Under.” Writer Dave Cook likes the “exceptionally tender” grilled squid, “terrific” cripsy pork with sauteed morning glory, and many other dishes. [NYT]

‘Can’t Miss’ Dishes at Pure Thai Shophouse;